A scheme to construct a lighthouse tower was announced within days of the Carpathia's arrival in New York, with fundraising of public subscriptions undertaken by the Seamen's Benefit Society. The lighthouse was dedicated in a ceremony on 15 April 1913. The ceremony was attended by over 200 people, including friends and family of Titanic victims.

The memorial, measuring 60 feet tall, is a lighthouse tower.  The lighthouse originally stood on the roof the new 13-storey high Seaman's Church Institute. The Institute was built at a cost of $1.25 million in 1913, on the corner of South Street and Coenties Slip.

In 1968, following the relocation of the Institute to another site in New York, the lighthouse lantern was removed by the Kaiser-Nelson Steel & Salvage Corporation and donated to the South Street Seaport Museum. In May 1976, with funding provided by the oil company Exxon Corporation, the lantern was installed atop a new concrete pedestal base on the corner of Fulton Street and Pearl Street.

As built, the lighthouse was a stonework pedestal and lantern, topped with a domed roof. The lighthouse had a small door at the base of its rear, with internal stairs rising to the lantern. An external gantry with railings was cantilevered out from the sides of the pedestal.

A smaller gantry was affixed round the base of the lantern, with the lantern formed by four corner pillars with convex sides, with three rows of three rectangular windows. Inside was a fixed green light. Above, there was a projecting domed roof, topped with a cylindrical cupola.

Attached to the cupola was a vertical steel pole, with an attached spherical time ball. Five minutes before noon each day, the ball was raised to the top, and when a telegraphic time signal indicating noon was received from the National Observatory in Washington, the ball was dropped.

The memorial carries a brass plaque with the inscription:

Titanic Memorial Lighthouse

This lighthouse is a memorial to the passengers, officers and crew who dies as heroes when the steamship Titanic sank after collision with an iceberg.

Latitude 41° 46' North, Longitude 50° 14' West, April 15, 1912

The lighthouse was originally erected by public subscription in 1913. It stood above the East River on the roof of the old Seaman's Church Institute at the corner of South Street and Coenties Slip. From 1913 to 1967 the time ball at the top of the lighthouse would drop down the pole to signal twelve noon to the ships in the harbour. This time ball mechanism was activated by a telegraphic signal from the National Observatory in Washington, D.C.

In July 1968 the Seamen's Church Institute moved to its present quarters at 15 State Street. That year the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse was donated by the Kaiser-Nelson Steel & Salvage Corporation to the South Street Seaport Museum. It was erected on this corner at the entrance to the museum complex in May 1976 with funds provided by the Exxon Corporation.

South Street Seaport Museum.

Many Titanic memorials are to a specific group or individual. The memorial lighthouse was one of the earliest memorials planned to commemorate all the victims of the Titanic: passengers - first, second and third class - and crew.

More information

  • New York Times, The (1912) Lighthouse Tower in Victims' Honor New York: The New York Times
  • New York Times, The (1913) Give Lighthouse for Titanic's Dead New York: The New York Times
  • Henderson, John R (1998) Demographics of the Titanic Passengers: Deaths, Survivals, and Lifeboat Occupancy Ithaca, NY: http://www.icyousee.org/titanic.html